Best Parent Communication Platforms

December 2022 — Use EdTech Impact to find the best Parent Communication Platforms for your school. Compare customer reviews, features and pricing, or learn more in our Parent Communication Guide.

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Why Parent Communication?

Parent communication platforms enable parents to receive updates about their child’s progress and to keep up to date with events and activities in the school calendar. Send messages to parents, receive online payments and encourage parents’ involvement in their child’s homework, all through convenient smartphone apps.

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Learn about Parent Communication

What are Parent Communication platforms?

Parent Communication platforms are used by schools to send messages to parents and guardians, collect online payments, and keep families up to date with the school calendar. They usually come in the form of an app or messaging service that parents download to their smartphone, enabling messages and updates from their child’s school to be sent directly to them.

Many of the essential day-to-day interactions that schools have with parents can be performed easily through Parent Communication platforms, such as reporting absences or alerting parents to incidents or illness. Moreover, automated features, such as taking online payments and sending group messages, have the potential to save teachers valuable time and effort.

With Parent Communication platforms, you can send individual messages to parents about their child, as well as group messages relaying information about year group activities or school-wide events. Some have a particular focus on relaying positive and praise-focused information, while others offer the choice of sending information in a variety of formats, for example, in different languages or via video message or written text.

Parent Communication platforms aim to improve parental engagement with schools, facilitate quick and easy interactions with parents, and reduce the possibility of important messages not being received or acted upon. They are more likely to be implemented successfully when integrated with the organisational goals of the school and the specific needs of your parent population in mind.

What are the benefits of Parent Communication Platforms?

There are two types of benefits of implementing a Parent Communication Platform as part of a whole-school approach: firstly, the ease and speed at which it is possible to communicate with parents over a variety of issues. The second is how these individual advantages help your school achieve its wider organisational and aspirational goals, from parental engagement to academic attainment.

The following is a detailed rundown of the range of benefits that are possible when Parent Communication Platforms are used purposefully, with your school’s organisational goals in mind:

1. Improved parental engagement

Parental engagement isn’t just about the number of parents you can reach, but the quality and consistency of the interactions between them and your school. Here are some of the ways Parent Communication platforms can help:
Contact at the touch of a button

Parent Communication platforms have tapped into our ever-increasing reliance on smartphones. They make it easy for schools to reach out to parents without being intrusive, and provide a convenient means for parents to connect with the latest school news through apps on their phone; sensible when you consider that the average adult spends just over two hours a day accessing the Internet through their phone.
Improves the quality of engagement between parents and teachers
Many Parent Communication platforms focus on boosting engagement in some of the most important areas of school life, including:

  • Parental support to help children complete and submit homework
  • Parental support with behaviour management strategies implemented at school
  • Parents’ evening attendance

These platforms do much more than send convenient reminders; they have the potential to increase high-quality engagement with parents over matters that can improve a child’s school experience.

Helps you emphasis praise and positivity

One of the common complaints from parents is that they don’t feel ‘in the loop’ when it comes to their child’s progress and successes at school. Parent Communication platforms can help you address this problem by making it easy to send out praise and positive feedback, reducing the chances of parents feeling disenfranchised or unmotivated.

Some Parent Communication platforms focus specifically on communicating praise and positivity, built on the philosophy that praise and recognition of achievement is the key to motivating children and building their confidence.

Breaks down communication barriers with parents

Whilst some parents are forthcoming and want to be actively involved in their child’s school life, others may prove more difficult to reach. Parent Communication platforms make it possible for schools to contact parents without the need for letters or picking up the phone, thus removing some of the barriers that make it less likely for parents to respond.

Even better, some Parent Communication platforms allow you to send video messages rather than written text, whilst others allow you to send messages in different languages. These features are great for reaching parents who struggle with literacy, or for whom English is a second language.

2. Help accomplish organisational goals

The greatest benefit of improving parental engagement is its impact on student attainment, attendance, and motivation. Research has consistently shown that better parental engagement correlates with higher attainment amongst students.

Parent Communication platforms specifically target improved parental engagement, and therefore have the potential to help you achieve school-wide aims such as better attainment or reduced absenteeism, which is why they should always be implemented with your school’s organisational goals in mind.

3. A host of tasks made easier and quicker

Organisational benefits are only possible because of the huge variety of ways that Parent Communication platforms transform daily contact with parents. Here are some of the individual tasks they make easier and quicker:

Sends individual and group messages
Send messages to a whole year group about activities and events, or to individual parents about their child’s progress.

Easy payment collection
Many Parent Communication platforms allow parents to make payments for activities, clubs or trips via their app, making payments easy to track and manage.

Easy reporting of absences
Parents can report absences through their app, which includes identity verification so you have peace of mind that the message has come directly from the parent.

Parents are kept up to date with your school calendar
Share your school calendar and ensure parents keep up to date with important events.

Share the positives and negatives with parents
Send individual messages to parents regarding their child’s achievements as well as any behaviour sanctions, so that they are involved and informed every step of the way.

Manage parents’ evenings with ease
Some Parent Communication platforms allow you to track attendance for parents’ evening and access information about individual students easily to help the evening run smoothly.

Include parents in homework goals and hand-ins
Share homework tasks and deadlines with parents, and let them know how their child is progressing with their assignments.

What are the typical features of Parent Communication platforms?

Here are some of the features you can expect to find on Parent Communication platforms. Note that features vary from platform to platform and you should always check whether a platform has the features you are looking for before making a purchase:

Messages and alerts:
Send individual or group messages to parents so they are up to date with their child’s progress, and have clear information regarding school events and activities.

Absence reporting:
Parent Communication platforms allow parents to report a child’s absence via the app, with security measures in place to verify authenticity.

Achievement notifications:
Notify parents of successful group activities or individual achievements via messages and alerts.

Calendar:
Parents can use Parent Communication platforms to access the school calendar, meaning they’re always up to date with key events, activities and deadlines.

My Child’s Page:
With access to their own child’s information page, parents are kept involved and up to date with all the important information and milestones in their child’s school life, from homework deadlines to what clothing they’ll need for their school trip.

Rewards:
Send stars, thumbs up, and certificates to parents in recognition of their child’s progress.

Homework:
Track which homework has been handed in, and share feedback with parents.

Behaviour management:
There are Parent Communication platforms that allow you to let parents know of incidents, ‘demerits’ and consequences given to their child, enabling opportunities for schools and parents to work together and respond consistently to difficulties with conduct.

Language translator:
Some Parent Communication platforms allow you to translate messages and alerts into different languages, helping to minimise the barriers to ESL families accessing important information about their child’s school life.

What should you consider before purchasing Parent Communication platforms?

Let’s look at some of the key questions to ask yourself before purchasing a Parent Communication platform:

What are the specific needs of your parent population?

A clear understanding of the needs of your students’ parents will help you establish what functionality you require from a Parent Communication platform, and help you get the most from the platform you choose.

Consider carrying out a needs analysis of your parent population to get a deeper understanding of the barriers to better parental engagement. A good needs analysis should have a particular focus, such as on disadvantaged and minority ethnic parents, or fathers.

Once you understand who the hardest-to-reach parents are, you can choose a Parent Communication platform that will help you establish better engagement with them. If you have a large number of parents for whom English is a second language, you might want a platform that has the functionality to send messages in different languages and in a variety of formats (video or text messages). Alternatively, if one of your goals is improving motivation amongst students, you can opt for a Parent Communication platform that emphasises praise and encouragement.

What are the national guidelines on parental engagement?

Once you’ve carried out a needs analysis of your parent demographic, it’s worth looking at national guidelines to keep you up to date with the most recent findings and evidence-based recommendations on parental engagement. This knowledge will help you to shape your school’s parent-oriented goals and select a Parent Communication platform that has features and functions relevant to your ambitions.

What do other schools say?

Once you find a Parent Communication platform you like, it’s always worth looking at other schools’ reviews of the product before deciding whether it’s right for you. Look out particularly for reviews from schools similar to your own to get the most valuable insight into whether a platform delivers on metrics such as reliability, value for money and impact on attainment.

Parent Communication Platforms: Sources

How Two-way communication can boost parent engagement, Waterford, viewed 16/12/21:
https://www.waterford.org/education/two-way-communication-parent-engagement/

Why Convenience is the key to effective Parental Engagement; TES, viewed 16/12/21:
https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/why-convenience-key-effective-parental-engagement-and-how-achieve-it

Using Technology for Effective Parent-teacher communication; Digital Promise, viewed 15/12/21:
https://digitalpromise.org/2014/09/17/using-technology-for-effective-parent-teacher-communication/

Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement, a summary; published by gov.uk, viewed 16/12/21:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/182507/DFE-RR156_-_Practitioner_Summary.pdf

Case Study: effective parental communication; SecEd, viewed 15/12/21:
https://www.sec-ed.co.uk/best-practice/case-study-effective-parental-communication/

Parental involvement placed at the heart of school life; published by Estyn, viewed 16/12/21:
https://www.estyn.gov.wales/effective-practice/parental-involvement-placed-heart-school-life

Parent involvement and student academic performance: a multiple mediation analysis, Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, D Toper et al.; 2010; 38(3): 183–197:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020099/#:~:text=Parent%20involvement%20in%20a%20child’s,with%20a%20child’s%20academic%20performance.&text=Results%20indicated%20a%20statistically%20significant,impact%20of%20the%20child’s%20intelligence



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